Standing Tall And Talented?

Every Knicks fan knows Amar’e Stoudemire‘s nickname is STAT but has he lived up to it thus far this year?

Standing Tall? Check.

Talented? Well, that’s a bit tricky.

Nearly all of STAT’s… stats have been down compared to last year. He’s averaging 17.9 points per game, is shooting 42% from the field, is grabbing 7.5 boards a game, and is averaging 0.4 blocks a game. Last year, Amar’e averaged 25.3 points per game, shot 50.2% from the field, grabbed 8.1 boards a game, and blocked 1.9 shots a game. Yes, I know it’s only been 11 games but here’s two points I would like to bring up regarding that:

1. It’s only a 66 game season.
2. His play in the last three games should be fairly concerning.

What I’ve seen from Amar’e, both on offense and defense, this year is almost a complete 180 of last year. I haven’t seen the hustle or the energy he exhibited last year when he famously declared, “The Knicks are back.” Coming into last season, we knew he was a defensive liability but he showed some real flashes of brilliance throughout the season such as “The Block“. This year? I’ve seen laziness and a lack of hustle to go back on defense and I’ve seen him constantly settle for jump shots. I’ve been thinking this for several games, but I bit my lip because the season was still early. But after his performances at Memphis, at Oklahoma City, and at home vs. the Magic? Well, frankly it’s time to say something. Just take a look at what he’s been averaging the past three games:

10 points, 36% shooting, 3.6 boards, 0 blocks, and 4 fouls.

In one word: Oy.

Now, you might be thinking, “It’s three games, calm down.” But on the contrary, it’s three games against some of the league’s best teams. Now to be fair, I was not able to catch the Oklahoma City game but I was able to see both the Memphis and Orlando games and to see a star PF like Amar’e only grab two boards one game and completely be a non-factor in another game is concerning. To be fair, no player is perfect. As much as we praise players like Wilt, Larry, Magic, Jordan, and Kobe, they have all gone through some nasty stretches during their historic careers where they weren’t playing at their very best. It happens to the very best of them and Amar’e is no exception. This can easily be just a rough stretch for him and he will break through soon.

One can also say it’s the result of, well, no point guards. Ever since he first stepped into the league, Amar’e has had a great PG. Youtube sensation Stephon Marbury was his point guard his freshman year. In his sophomore year, Marbury and Leandro Barbosa were his point guard. In his junior year up until he left Phoenix, Hall of Famer Steve Nash was his point guard. In his first year in New York, he had Raymond Felton and Chauncey Billups. This year, he has… Toney Douglas/Iman Shumpert. Yeah, that’s a drastic drop in talent if you asked me. Amar’e is a pick and roll machine so without a good point guard, his play suffers. We can only hope Baron Davis can bring back vintage pick and roll Amar’e for now.

If the Knicks want to go far into the playoffs, they’re going to need Amar’e to improve his play, both on offense and defense. Carmelo has been nothing short of outstanding this season but there’s going to be a point where he’s going to struggle and going to need somebody to carry the load temporarily. Tyson Chandler isn’t that type of player but Amar’e Stoudemire certainly is.

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